How To Be Kind To Yourself About Reading

My big goal this year is to be kinder to myself regarding reading. By the end of last year, I was pushing myself to read more and more to get my physical TBR to less than 100. I managed that, but it meant that I was reading so much all the time. Plus, there were a few review copies that I’d been sent that I needed to read, and it just got to be too much.

This year, I’m going easier on myself. I’m already ahead on review books, so I can space them out, and I’m doing this TBR basket where I’ve got a pile of books to pick from, but I can read them in any order.

I’m thinking a lot about ways I can be kinder to myself this year, so I wanted to share some of them with you.

Don’t Set a Reading Goal

Obviously, I’m not doing this. But I am telling myself that if I need to lower my goal? I’ll do so later in the year.

But for many of us, our self-set reading goals can be a stressor. Set it too high, and you’ll have to read a ton to reach it. Even a low goal can be too much if you wind up in a reading slump. Reading is a fun hobby, and even though it can be a bit more of a job for us content creators, it should still be fun.

If we’re forcing ourselves to pick books up to reach some arbitrary number? Yeah, it’s probably not worth it.

That said, having a goal can also encourage us to get reading. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t set a goal. But you should only think about doing so if it’ll help, not hinder.

Try To Have Some Variety In Your Reading

I’m not just talking about variety in the genres you read here, either.

No matter how you pick your books; a TBR jar, a TBR game, mood reads, some prompts or whatever else, it can all get very samey.

This is where doing readathons can help, as you’ll have a new list of prompts. Or even a whole new way of getting your TBR together. But, obviously, this is only sometimes possible.

You should find ways to mix up what you’re reading. If you’re feeling slumpy, then mood reading is probably best. Or use some prompts if you don’t know what you want to read. You can even do a mix of different things.

My current TBR picking consists of a couple of review copies and then a few mood reads. I then draw a few jar picks to finalise up my TBR basket. I can then semi-mood-read in that I’m not making myself pick up the books in a particular order. Which is how I used to read.

I like this way as I’m still getting some choices. But I’ll also wind up picking out some books I’ve had for a while that I’m just not picking up on my own. And then the order I’m reading them in will depend on what I’m in the mood for now.

A big thing that this way of picking books out helps with is balance.

Find Balance With Your Other Hobbies

Sometimes we need to take a break from reading. Especially when we have a bunch of other hobbies, one of which is calling for you.

Over the years, one of my problems has been prioritising reading over my other hobbies. I talk about giving myself a break when I need it, but the reality is that it’s rare I do so.

I have so many games that I want to play. I have a new fanfic I’ve started to write and a bunch of novels I should get back to. Most nights, my brain is so dead these days that I watch YouTube for an hour or so before I sleep. And doing all that is okay. I actually want to do most of that.

So why do I need to stop and read a book instead? Yeah, it’s a problem.

Being kind to yourself can be simply telling yourself that you don’t have to read. Pick up one of your other hobbies and lose yourself in that instead. You don’t even need an audiobook whilst doing other things.

Let Yourself Reread

And I’m not necessarily talking about rereading books so you can continue on a series.

As readers, we all have favourite books, and we love rereading them repeatedly. But when you have an enormous unread TBR, sometimes you can feel guilty about rereading. But we shouldn’t!

Rereading still counts as reading and if whatever’s going on in our lives means we’d rather lose ourselves in worlds that we already know and love? 

That’s valid.

The only rereading I’ve been doing has been for projects or to continue series. I should change that.

Don’t Worry About Your TBR

The most significant stressor as readers is often our TBRs. No matter how many books you own or what speed you read…we can all feel trapped by our TBRs.

Sometimes, we need to nope out and leave our TBR behind. Just for a little while.

Go buy yourself a book you want to read right away, take a trip to the library and pick up a few things. Or if you’re subscribed to services like Kindle Unlimited or Scribd, you can borrow a few things from there instead.

This is only smart in the short term if your TBR is stressing you out. But sometimes, you need a break. Getting something brand new to you can feel like hitting the reset button.

Make sure that if you’re buying new books, you pick them up straight away, as just adding them to your TBR won’t help.

Final Thoughts

There are a few other sections I could write for this post, but I’m going to leave them here.

Being kind to yourself about your reading will look different for different people. We should all figure out what we like about reading and what’s stressing us out. We need to do that before reading makes us feel more like a job than a hobby we love.

2023 should be the year of us all being kind to ourselves. So let’s do precisely that and start by looking at our reading habits.

16 thoughts on “How To Be Kind To Yourself About Reading

    1. Helping indie authors is definitely worth it, but if you’re reading less, then you can shout about the books that really stand out more. Because you won’t have so many books to talk about at once. So yeah, just read what you want when you want, and if you help some authors out sometimes? That’s a bonus

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Finding balance with other hobbies/aspects of life is the hardest one for me. And it’s something I’m also trying to do this year. One of the things I’ve let fall by the wayside is time spent working out, which I used to do 4-5x/week through the first year of the pandemic. But a house move later and wanting to read all the books has led to a significant decline in my desire to want to work out haha. BUT I’m consciously making an effort now to get back into it and it’s been great. I hope you’re able to find your own balance this year! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is something many of us needed to hear! Personally, I didn’t set any reading goals for 2023, motivated by a similar desire to be kinder to myself and remove any and all expectations I place on my reading. Over the last few years, I’ve failed most of my non-numerical reading goals so I’ve decided to free myself from the expectations and the subsequent shame of publically failing lol. And I have to say, I feel great! I set my goodreads goal at 1 book, the first time I have ever done this since using the site I think!

    Unfortunately, I do have to move this year and my physical TBR is not in a “yeah, I can pack all of these books up and move them to a new place, no problem!” state, so I’ll have to cut it down one way or another. Maybe I’ll try to participate in a few readathons (though I have been historically pretty bad at them haha) or try some reading challenges of some kind. Generally, I’m just excited to see how not having any goals changes my reading this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve found I’m getting through books quicker by being kind to myself so hopefully with your changes you will too! But maybe you just need to do some first page tests of a load of books from your TBR you’re unsure of and just get rid of the load you’re meh on. Unhauling can be kind too!


  3. This is such a soft and beautiful post and am basically just THE MOST GRATEFUL to you for writing it!!!!!! also this sentence: “You don’t even need an audiobook whilst doing other things.” and the entire paragraph on rereading to?? THANK YOU SO SO MUCH FOR SAYING ALL OF THIS 🥺❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! We’re all guilty of making ourselves read more than we need to so I really think 2023 is the year we should all just step back and be kinder. I’ve read so much this month already even though some days I’ve not even touched a book as I wasn’t in the mood as I’m enjoying reading more by being kinder to myself. So yeah, I hope this helps you in some way 🩵

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such great advice! I feel you on so many of these points – particularly the one about rereading less than I used to because I feel guilty about not getting to as many newer books 🙈 – so it was nice to get a reminder to take a bit of a step back!

    Liked by 1 person

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